Often we need to know the number of records in a table. If you are looking for something very specific, such as the number of non-NULL values in a particular column, learn how to use COUNT() correctly with this post here. If you are looking for a basic record count for the entire table, however, COUNT() adds a lot of overhead that you simply do not need. This is because COUNT() will actually read all of your records in order to count them. It will try to use the best index possible for this (see previously mentioned post), but a table with millions of records will still incur an unnecessary read load on your server.
sys.dm_db_partition_stats provides up-to-date page and row count information about all partitions in the current database. It stores the record count rather than reading it from the table directly which is significantly less load on your server and no blocking concerns. For a fast, light-weight, count of your records use this query.
USE AdventureWorks2012 ;WITH rowCnts AS ( -- Shows all user tables and row counts -- for the current database -- Remove is_ms_shipped = 0 check to -- include system objects -- i.index_id < 2 indicates clustered index (1) -- or hash table (0) SELECT o.name [table_name] , SCHEMA_NAME(o.schema_id) [schema_name] , ddps.row_count FROM sys.indexes AS i INNER JOIN sys.objects AS o ON i.object_id = o.object_id INNER JOIN sys.dm_db_partition_stats AS ddps ON i.object_id = ddps.object_id AND i.index_id = ddps.index_id WHERE i.index_id < 2 AND o.is_ms_shipped = 0 ) SELECT [schema_name] ,[table_name] ,[row_count] FROM rowCnts --/* WHERE [table_name] IN ( 'Department', 'Employee', 'EmailAddress' ) --*/ --ORDER BY [schema_name], [table_name] ORDER BY row_count DESC